The poor and the poorest, 50 years on: evidence from British Household Expenditure Surveys of the 1950s and 1960s

Ian Gazeley, Hector Gutierrez Rufrancos, Andrew Newell, Kevin Reynolds, Rebecca Searle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We re-explore Abel-Smith and Townsend’s landmark study of poverty in early post World War 2 Britain.They found a large increase in poverty between 1953–1954 and 1960, which was a period of relatively strong economic growth. Our re-examination is a first exploitation of the data extracted from the recent digitization of the Ministry of Labour’s ‘Enquiry into household expenditure’ in 1953–1954. First we closely replicate their results. We find that Abel-Smith and Townsend’s method generated a greater rise in poverty than other reasonable methods. Using contemporary standard poverty lines, we find that the relative poverty rate grew only a little at most, and the absolute poverty rate fell, between 1953–1954 and 1961, as might be expected in a period of rising real incomes and steady inequality. We also extend the poverty rate time series of Goodman and Webb back to 1953–1954.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-474
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A
Volume180
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Gazeley, I., Rufrancos, H. G., Newell, A., Reynolds, K. and Searle, R. (2016), The poor and the poorest, 50 years on: evidence from British Household Expenditure Surveys of the 1950s and 1960s. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/rssa.12202/abstract. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Keywords

  • Inequality
  • 1950s Britain
  • Poverty

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